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Gore Vows to Boost Education Benefits, Military Pay


JACKSONVILLE, Ark. — Courting veterans, Vice President Al Gore said Wednesday he intends to seek the largest-ever single increase in education benefits for active and retired military personnel.

If enacted by Congress, the monthly benefits to such servicemen and women would increase by 25%, to $670 from $536, Gore told about 200 veterans at the VFW Hall here.

"We have a responsibility to each and every one of our veterans," the vice president said. "America must do more for those who have risked everything to keep us free. I will fight for an unshakable national commitment to our veterans."

Gore also vowed to increase military pay and said that no member of America's armed forces should have to use food stamps. He estimated that "a few thousand" now do so.

"We will end that practice once and for all," Gore vowed. Rather than getting by with the help of food stamps, he said, military personnel "should be commemorated on stamps."

The vice president said his proposal to increase monthly education payments adds up to $1.2 billion over five years.

His plan also would tie to the cost of living the same benefits for survivors and dependents.

Gore, whose father was a senator, served in Vietnam as an Army journalist and likes to say he carried "an M-16 and a pencil." His GOP rival, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, served in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War.

Earlier in the day, Gore spoke in Crystal City, Va., just outside Washington, at a forum on spurring economic development in the Mississippi Delta.

There he announced that the Clinton administration is providing $14.6 million in loans and grants for the region's small businesses, as well as $3.7 million in employment training grants for job placement centers in the delta.

Gore also attended two fund-raisers for the Democratic National Committee on Wednesday night in Dallas before heading for Los Angeles. Today he is scheduled to spend a full day at the Elizabeth Learning Center in Cudahy.

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